At a London conference the day before the 2012 Olympics started, I was sitting a few feet away from the European Central Bank president when he uttered a little sentence that became a turning point in the euro crisis: “Within our mandate, the ECB is ready to do whatever it takes to preserve the euro. And believe me, it will be enough.”
Many of Mario’s key qualities are encapsulated in that moment: a soft voice and melodic accent, fierce determination, outstanding intuition, intimate knowledge of his peers and their counterparts, and calling a spade a spade without putting any of his cards on the table.
After 18 months at the helm of the Frankfurt institution, Mario has reshaped the bank. His down-to-earth approach and keen sense of humor conceal a formidable will and the courage to take on skeptics for the good of the currency — and the continent.
Mario hasn’t won the euro war yet, but he has won many battles. He is among the most astute of technocrats — “only a technocrat,” so he says — and one of the best European leaders, so I say.
Lagarde is the managing director of the International Monetary Fund
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